Day 2 of Seattle teachers strike: 50K students stay home

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(NewsNation) — For the second day in a row, more than 50,000 students in Seattle stayed home from school while their teachers went on strike, effectively delaying the start of their school year.

“You’re fighting for more support for student needs? More support for a sustainable workforce? Increased pay and a fair contract?” asked Teresa Mosqueda, a Seattle City Council member.

The Seattle Education Association, which represents roughly 6,000 teachers, called the strike at midnight Wednesday after spending months trying to negotiate a deal in which they asked for a more manageable workload and better compensation, the Seattle Times reports.

More specifically, the Seattle Education Association says it’s fighting for such things as support for students in special and multilingual education, mental and behavioral health services. The strike is leaving parents and even the school district in search of temporary child care.

In a statement to NewsNation, Seattle Public Schools thanked families and staff for “patience and understanding as we work toward an agreement.”

The school district told parents it was “optimistic” a deal would be reached with teachers in a letter to parents.

A sign is picked up as teachers from Seattle Public Schools picket outside Roosevelt High School on what was supposed to be the first day of classes, Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2022, in Seattle. The first day of classes at Seattle Public Schools was cancelled and teachers are on strike over issues that include pay, mental health support, and staffing ratios for special education and multilingual students. (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)

“Negotiations with SEA are ongoing,” the school district said. “We are looking forward to beginning school and welcoming students and staff for the 2022-23 school year.”

Nearby, in the suburb of Kent, Washington, teachers just reached a deal after going on strike in late August.

Similarly, last month in Columbus, Ohio, teachers went on strike for the first time since 1975, also demanding smaller class sizes and better pay.

Combating educator burnout, securing resources for bilingual students, providing higher wages to meet Seattle’s cost of living and eliminating “pervasive toxicity and racism” in schools are the priorities of the union, according to its website.

“I started teaching right at the start of COVID, as we went into online school, a big tumultuous time when students needed more resources and help to do well,” said Kara Alden, an eighth-grade English teacher picketing outside Jane Addams Middle School in north Seattle. “We’re back in person and they still need those supports, in social-emotional health, for our multilingual learners to get the education they deserve. The district is not providing those supports.”

Seattle joins Columbus, Ohio, as a major metropolitan city to experience a teacher strike this year. This is the first time since 2015 teachers in Seattle have gone on strike.

“We encourage teachers and the school district to urgently reach a just and fair resolution that centers our students and prioritizes their education and future,” Mayor Bruce Harrell said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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